Sunday, December 21, 2008

Chapter 4 - The Bachelor Life Continues.

My circle of friends was getting larger and one day I ran into Geoff Assauw at the St Kilda Cricket Club, when we adjoined for a beer after our game of hockey. I was playing hockey for St Kilda when the grounds were beside the Albert Park Lake and our club rooms were in the Grandstand of the cricket grounds. We renewed our acquaintance and I met his brother Derrick with whom he was sharing a room. Geoff later moved into a flat in St Kilda and I was a regular visitor. I was going out at that time with Angela who lived with her parents in the Eastern suburbs and we had a marvellous relationship. We used to regularly go to Sandringham for a swim and enjoyed our visits to Geoff’s flat and were often on a Saturday night at party at someone’s flat. But unfortunately, Angela was becoming very possessive and this did not suit me at all as I had no intention of settling down as yet. This relationship ended when one day I met Margaret at the flat and we became good friends. In the meantime Geoff and I and his flat mates and our girl friends would be regular party goers. One of our favourite pastimes was attending Town Hall dances and the various Jazz venues around Melbourne. On this Saturday, Geoff and I met at the St Kilda Cricket Club and had a few beers with the boys at the bar. We had earlier decided to go the Hawthorn Town Hall dance and as this was during the six O’clock closing days, bought a case of a dozen beers and carried them to the car. When we got to the car we dropped the case on the nature strip and broke a couple of bottles. This was the start of a momentous night. Every thing went well until we were chatting and carrying on when driving along Heatherton Road in Clayton. Without and notice, the car in front of stopped suddenly and I even though I stood on the brakes could not prevent a rear end collision. The vehicles touched, but there being no great damage, and we took off and headed for Gove Street. Peugeot 203C This was when I forgot that the Heatherton Road level crossing had a hump and hit it at speed, resulting in myself and passengers nearly going through the roof. When we got home and related the happenings of the night, Dad advised us to stay home, which we did without any arguments. Margaret lived in Box Hill and I would visit her regularly and we would go tenpin bowling and to the cinema. We then had a relationship that lasted a few months. One Friday night we attended her work Ball and we had a great time there with Geoff and his partner and our friends. At that time, whisky was the preferred drink at functions, but I was very careful not to drink too much when I knew that I had to take my girlfriend home. Margaret had been adopted and her parents were very worried whenever I took her out and I respected them too much to “muck up”. Whether it was the tiredness after a long working week or the alcohol or a combination of the both I will never know, but I remember dropping Margaret home after the Ball, staying for a cup of coffee and then heading home to Springvale. I also remember driving east along White Horse Road and then turning right into Springvale Road, driving across the railway crossing at Nunawading and heading down the hill. The next thing I recall is seeing this object in front of the car and swerving to the right to avoid it. It turned out that the object was a Milk Cart that was turning across Springvale Road into East India Avenue. I must have lost my concentration for a split second and not seeing the small battery operated lights of the milk cart because they were at an angle when crossing the road, crashed into it at speed, even though I braked and swerved to the right to avoid it. After colliding with the milk cart with the left front mud guard of the Peugeot 203, I went off the road and crashed into one of the eucalyptus trees that were growing beside the road. At that time Springvale Road was only a two lane road. This was before seat belts and I could have been injured badly, but I must have braked pretty hard as the only damage to the car was that the left front mud guard was damaged and the left trailing arm was compressed a few centimetres and the left head light was broken. I hit my head on the windscreen and had a large swelling on my head and I also had a sore chest from the impact of the steering wheel. I recall being put into an ambulance and being taken to the Box Hill Hospital. My injuries were such that I did not need medical attention, but the Police were in attendance at the crash site and they followed me to the Hospital and against the advice of the nurses and doctors wanted me to “walk a straight line”, which I must have done to their satisfaction, as I did not hear anything further. I was kept in Hospital for observation until the morning and my parents notified of the crash. My father picked me up in the morning and took me home. A few days later, memories of my life in Sri Lanka seemed to have mysteriously disappeared. This loss of memory stayed with me for a number of years, until in 2002 I decided to try and find the missing snippets of my life with the help of friends and the internet. When Margaret’s parents heard about my crash and I was not welcome in their house any more and the relationship ended soon after. At that time, the motor repair establishments did not have the equipment to straighten the trailing arm on the Peugeot 203C, which was the extent to the major damage. The insurance company agreed to give me my car and pay for new one of the same vintage. I bought a Peugeot 203 that was in reasonable condition and transferred the mechanical components from the 203C to the new one. Dad had a Peugeot 404 that he was constantly working on and he helped me to make the transfer. My “new” 203 was mechanically the same as the “old” 203C, with the only difference being a small rear window and the colour being blue green rather that cream. The Blue Green Peugeot 203 After is event, I started visiting Carl and Gerts Melcherts and Peter Singh at their flat in Hawthorn. The Saturday night parties were something to behold and life was good. One night we went to a nurse’s party in a flat in St Kilda Road and it was there that I met my future (first) wife Joan Freer. In no time at all we were having a relationship that continued when Joan moved to an apartment in Stevenson Road in Kew. It was while Joan was living at this address that we decided to get married in 1964. I was at that time, also working in a part-time job as a waiter for a Jewish Caterer at an establishment in St Kilda. This kept me busy on the week-ends when Joan was on shift work and it also helped to save funds for our wedding and honeymoon. I also worked at the Chevron Hotel in St Kilda Road as a Banquet Waiter whenever there was a shortage of waiters. After I had qualified as an Accountant, in 1980, this led to me being offered the job of Accountant for the Chevron, by Mr Stanley Korman, the owner at that time. After discussing the offer with Joan and because of the rumours that the hotel was in financial difficulties, I declined the offer. I did not want to swap a secure job with one that had an uncertain future. As Joan’s parents lived in Leopold (co-incidentally one of my names), near Geelong, we drove down one Saturday to ask her Father Bert Freer for his permission to marry. Joan’s mother’s name was Gertrude. Bert was a builder who had migrated to Australia after the Second World War. The family settled in Heidelberg while Bert worked for Jennings Constructions, building houses for the Olympic Village and later moved to Leopold to work with the Shell Company at the refinery. I am not sure that he wanted a Ceylonese for a son-in-law, but Joan was I later found out always fighting with her father and she would get what she wanted. I was told that Joan’s mum was pleased that she was finally settling down. The marriage was to take place in Geelong with the reception at the well known McKillop Reception House.

We were married at Christ Church, Malop Street, Geelong on Saturday 10th April 1964. It was beautiful day and a lovely service and we were pleased that Dad and Mum and the family had come from Melbourne and were present at the church and the reception.

Gertz Melcherts, Susan Coombes, Ed & Joan Rowlands, Peter Freer, Clair Willie

The bride was radiant and a proud father Bert Freer and her bridesmaids escorted her to the church. The simple service that we had agreed to went off without any hitches and we heaved a sigh of relief when the ceremony was over.

Cecil and May Rowlands, Ed and Joan Rowlands, Albert & Gertrude Freer

1 comment:

gertz39 said...

Trying to make contact for the third time.
Gerts Melcherts